China's New Buick Encore: Unusually Strong Visual Appeal, and Not Coming Here

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
chinas new buick encore unusually strong visual appeal and not coming here

The pint-sized Buick Encore subcompact crossover came to China in 2012, and, judging by the photo directly above, the launch of an updated model in 2016 was a splashy affair, indeed.

Back in the days when General Motors was looking to rapidly grow its market share in the world’s largest car market, Chinese and American Encores shared the same underpinnings, engines, and (for the most part) bodies. That’s about to change, and now we have a glimpse of the 2020 Chinese-market Encore ahead of the launch of an American-market model.

Wanna bet the Chinese are getting the looker of the two?

Check out these completely unclothed spy shots published by GM Authority. That’s the 2020 Encore we won’t get, looking a lot like a downsized Enclave with more appealing flanks. Frankly, your author finds this ride quite fetching, especially when compared to the existing Encore:

It’s expected we’ll see our next-generation Encore appear late this year, riding atop a different platform than its Chinese counterpart. Spy shots of that mode l show a vehicle with more upright proportions than the red star special, though its grille will surely follow the global herd.

China’s new Encore dons the automaker’s GEM (Global Emerging Markets) platform, a B- and C-segment architecture developed for use on lower-end models in overseas markets. It debuted beneath China’s Buick Excelle sedan for 2018.

Like the North American Encore, the overseas version will also have a Chevrolet counterpart — only this one carries the retro Tracker name. See leaked Chinese photos of it here. Note that the front end looks like an amalgam of the current Chevy Trax and its full-size Traverse stablemate. Both Tracker and not-for-us Encore grow slightly compared to the current-generation models, and the North American models probably will, too. However, we’ll likely see a return of the previous 1.4-liter four-cylinder powerplants while Chinese customers get a turbocharged 1.0-liter three-cylinder.

Interestingly, the fortunes of the American and Chinese Encores are heading in opposite directions. For the 2013, 2014, and 2015 calendar years, Chinese Encore sales outpaced American volume, with sales rising after that point in the U.S. and falling in the People’s Republic. The Encore is Buick’s best-selling U.S. model by a nearly 2:1 margin over the runner-up Enclave, with 93,071 examples unloaded last year. Sales rose 5.7 percent in 2018.

[Images: General Motors, © Timothy Cain/TTAC]

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  • Scott25 Scott25 on Mar 21, 2019

    Unpopular opinion, I think the current Encore is an attractive vehicle (actually I think the entire Buick lineup other than the bland outdated Invasion is attractive), and is one of the only good deals in the subcompact CUV class. The new Chinese design is far inferior to the current one, much more busy and forgettable. I agree it is very reminiscent of the current RAV4, but the “trapezoid” look is the new style for CUVs, see the Eclipse Cross as well.

  • Jeff S Jeff S on Mar 21, 2019

    One dealership in Cincinnati is advertising a Base 2019 Encore with front wheel drive for $14,999. For that price this is a good deal. Encore might not be my first choice but at the right price it is good enough and there are much less desirable vehicles. I am not going to knock the Encore because it is obviously selling and people like it.

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